Wednesday, 21 January 2009
THIS EVENT HAS TAKEN PLACE
This lecture will examine the working lives of the 'refined girls' employed in what was popularly referred to as "The D'Oyly Carte Boarding School" - the D'Oyly Carte Opera company of the 1880s and '90s - a working environment in which backstage gender segregation was strictly enforced, and where a patriarchal management personally regulated the private behaviour of female performers.
The attempted 'gentrification' of West End theatrical performance in the latter half of the 19th Century was transposed by Richard D'Oyly Carte to the popular musical stage. Just as 'unwholesome' elements of late nineteenth century Opera Bouffe were absent from both the content and presentation of comic opera at the Savoy, so the 'respectability' of its female performers, off stage as well as on, was actively promoted to forestall middle class antitheatrical prejudice.
Recruitment methods, working conditions, wages and and contracts of employment of principals and chorus girls at the Savoy will provide a material context from which to explore the working lives of performers who helped to create an image of theatrical respectability which transformed public perceptions of musical theatre in the final decades of the Victorian era.
Michael Goron spent ten years as a professional actor, working in both commercial and experimental theatre, covering projects from the West End to school tours, Shakespeare to Pantomime. He is also founder, producer and director of two small scale theatre companies.
Currently an associate lecturer at the University of Winchester, Michael Goron is researching the status of female actors in the 19th century, Gilbert & Sullivan, and working conditions in Victorian Theatres. He is also the author of educational research materials for HarperCollins Plays Plus series.
In the Chair: tbc
Current Lecture Programme
1st October 2008